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Welcome To The London Hackspace
Image Credit: Solexious
Welcome To The London Hackspace
Image Credit: Benjamin Blundell

Welcome To The London Hackspace

15 May 2013 Cristiana Bedei

“A place where people who make things can come to share tools and knowledge”

The London Hackspace (LHS) is a community owned and run hackerspace in East London. Founded in 2009 and originally based in Islington, this non-profit organisation has known an ever-increasing success culminating in the recent opening of a new larger venue on Hackney Road.

Counting more than 650 affiliates, this is the biggest hackerspace in the UK and it is entirely funded through member subscriptions to preserve the liberal and independent spirit of its community, free from external interferences or pressures – though access is granted to anyone from the public as well.

The Hackspace provides curious informatics and enthusiasts with a safe and friendly environment for experimentation around electronic devices and systems; its workshops are open 24 hours a day and offer technical equipment (mostly donated, found or made from scratch) for collective use, but also feature quieter spaces for laptop projects and less physical efforts.

The concepts developed here are diversified – just like the nature of the community itself – some respond to practical daily needs and problems, some are focused on general entertainment and some others are structured as more rigorous scientific researches. The hacking activity promoted in this centre, ranging from biohacking experiments to the ambitious project for a pizza printer, is based on high levels of collaboration and shared knowledge and skills, in compliance with the original ethics of the hacker world; a thirst for knowledge and genuine dedication seem to be the common denominator among users, whether they would be working on fixing a bike or repairing a 3D printer.

The openness and the authentic will to learn that distinguish this cyber-hub have led to a series of regular workshops (some of them are free) on disparate subjects, available for both members and non-members.

Motivated by democratic ethos, pursuing freedom of information and a constructive questioning of established restrictions (virtual and not only), the Hackspace is exclusively organised and managed by its subscribing members – who then elect an official board of directors to represent them.

Basic rules are set to regulate the space, but more as a loose guideline depicting the spirit of this enterprise rather than a strict statute. Predictably, the main concerns seem to be reciprocal respect among members and responsible behaviour towards the premises and materials offered – it can’t be that easy to satisfy the assorted needs of such a big community, yet it is evident how everyone is willing to contribute to the general smooth running of activities through a small personal effort.

The London Hackspace keeps attracting more and more people offering series of instructive events and making available technical tools and helpful assistance within a friendly and relaxed environment; indeed, the social element of the space is probably one of its biggest winning points.
Last week, a party to celebrate the opening of the new East London base – featuring a BBQ, beers and the brave attempt to serve liquid nitrogen ice cream – exposed the welcoming atmosphere within the workshops.

As a place to get together “to make things” and share tools and knowledge, the London Hackspace gains its relevance from its people: a mature, organised yet flexible approach to different activities and resources makes it possible for this place to be an important landmark for experimentation outside of the academic circuits of the scientific establishment.

For more information about London Hackspace please click here.

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